Modiu is a friend of mine, a fellow student of the University of Lagos, in this piece like his other articles, he x-ray and call to action an abnormally that is gradually becoming a norm in the university.
“While students get rusticated or expelled for writing formulae on palms, members of staff are yet to receive their share for treating examination questions with kid gloves”
As i pen this, students across levels in the Department of Microbiology in the University of Lagos would be rewriting at least three of their exams after investigations revealed that the questions were leaked.
In the Faculty of Education where i took two courses, there were rumors that both courses leaked few days to the day of the exams as students were seen studying them. In fact, at least six of the courses in the Faculty were alleged to have leaked.
Last session, the 300 level students of Building and Civil engineering had one of their CEG courses cancelled as a result of leakage. It was reported that the Dean of the faculty of engineering had to re-set the exams to avoid a repeat of the horrendous act.
A friend who is a Departmental President spoke bitterly of how some lecturers in the school (including his Faculty- Social Sciences) accepts several thousand from students in exchange for allowing them to re-write examinations at the comfort of their offices after such students might have sat for the same exam earlier. Of all the faculties in the university, the Faculty of Environmental sciences stands tall and isolated in this academic criminality.
This scenario does not happen in the University of Lagos alone. As a student of Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education between 2006 and 2009, I and my colleagues were in an examination hall when the invigilator requested for the question papers after about fifteen minutes when the exam had started. On enquiry, she confirmed that a staff saw the question paper with a student few minutes to its commencement. Though, new questions were set immediately, the College either through investigation or observation concluded that the personal assistant of lecturers were behind it thereby making it mandatory for all personal assistant vacate their respective offices two weeks to subsequent exams. I’m not sure if such still operates over there.
The question that rattles the mind is why this has become a part and parcel of our school system. How is examination questions set to warrant this lapse? What have successive university stakeholders especially the Head of departments, Dean of faculties, the Director of academic unit, the deputy vice chancellor- academic and research and the Vice chancellor done to curb this malpractice that although, preventable, has permeated the very nuke and cranny of the university system?
Are we this corrupt as Nigerians that the securing of examination questions has become so difficult and impossible? Some students alleged that the male lecturers leak it to their female girlfriends who thereafter leak it to other students. Others believe that some lecturers exchange the questions for huge amounts of money while some are of the opinion that the people in charge of printing, secretaries of departments and examination officers were responsible. Either of the cases, the fact remains that for every question paper that is seen by the students before the examination either by act of laxity on the part of the lecturers or by connivance with students for financial or sexual inducement, the balance which the virtue of justice, fairness, equity and scholarship hangs swings in the opposite direction.
Our university heads and administrators including ASUU do not mince words when it concerns their salaries and allowances as they rush to call on the government to come to the aid of the educational sector. What have they done to justify the resources they get from government and philanthropists? Why are our universities finding it hard to flush out those lecturers that water-down our ivory towers by compromising their academic oath for financial or sexual inducement? Are they waiting for Dr. Jonathan to also help with that?
If a 50 year old institution such as Unilag still struggles to make her members of staff act in accordance to the ethics of the teaching profession and public service, then we are in trouble as a nation and a people because in the end, universities all over the world being an academic setting, thrives on standard and credibility which this issue of leakage of question papers in a serious country with serious minded individuals, would set in motion, doubts about the authenticity and worth of every single certificate issued by the university.
Every Nigerian wants to attend Harvard, Yale and John Hopkins University but it’s as if we do not sit down to ponder on those measures that these top institutions take to ensure that standards are maintained. What would have happened if a lecturer from any of these universities is caught in this act?
As a proud student of the revered University of Lagos, this essay is never intended to smear the image of the school. Instead, it is borne of the fact that this University is too precious to some of us that academic felonies of this magnitude should never have occurred in the first place not to mention the fact that it has now become a routine. A good way to curb this menace is to immediately set up a panel to make genuine investigations from member of staff and students. Strict sanctions ranging from query, suspension and termination of appointments should be meted out to the culprits in order that it may serve as deterrent to others. If this is too big a task for our university managers, then it’s high time they stop criticizing elected officials especially the president for the shabby ways he handled similar cases of public misconducts such as the BMW scandal involving the former aviation minister- Stella Oduah or the several scams involving the petroleum minister- Allison Madueke. Enough of this double-standard and hypocrisy.
Modiu Olaguro is a Field Negro who finds ‘X’ at the University of Lagos